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“Moratorium”

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MORATORIUM
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I wait in a dream in a room in a dorm, Mulledy, missing all its other ladies, missing my
…..roommate, my blue comb on the mirror’s ledge, a window over the mill town of Worcester,
…..no view now but the silence of the shower next door, vacant well, & the dry plain of bare
…..square tiles, me with a new degree in the Bishop’s way, yet what lady’s trade is left (laundry,
…..kitchen, office, bedroom), what reference next what next application, all tomorrows an un-
…..matriculated wanting, and he missing my graduations, a daughter’s black tassles, anno
…..millesimo nongentesimo octogesimo primo, one art, only loss, a father gone
Only, the idle of it all.
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by Therese L. Broderick
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(A writer’s statement appears as the first comment.)
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About ThereseLBroderick

Independent community poet living in Albany, New York USA.

14 responses »

  1. ARTIST’S STATEMENT
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    This poem was composed in response to prompt #100 on ReadWritePoem: write about a recurrent dream, composing one poetic line per day or week. This version benefits from the feedback of local first readers JG and JH.
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    Fact & Fiction~
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    In this poem, I tweak the prototype for a variety of dreams I still occasionally have about the most precarious time of my youth: 1981. That year, I had just graduated from college, my father had just died, and I had no job or income or savings or car or husband. When I wake from these dreams, I am very relieved to be happy and settled at 50 years old, instead of suspended at 21 years old. Here’s a key to the personal code of this poem (although everything in the dream may be a partial aspect of ME):
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    MULLEDY — The name of my dorm at The College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA (USA).
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    BISHOP — Poet Elizabeth Bishop, born in Worcester (I never met her, but one of my poetry teachers was a Bishop devotee). I was an English major in college. The word also evokes the Catholic context of the college (I am not a Catholic).
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    ONE ART — Refers to Bishop’s poem about loss, “One Art.”
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    DATE IN LATIN — My graduation year, 1981, as it appears on my diploma.
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    MORATORIUM — I am currently studying Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye in order to lead a book discussion. While reading a critical essay about this coming-of-age novel, I came across the word “moratorium” which fit my own coming-of-age suspension. In my mind, the word also evokes mortality and death, although the dictionary definition of “moratorium” does not link the word to death, only to a temporary cessation of activity.
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    Sound & Sense ~
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    The poem has only two lines: a longer line formatted like the long lines in Galway Kinnell’s poem “Oatmeal” ; and a shorter line. These lines resulted from my composition process of writing one line per day about the narrative elements in the dream. I worked to make the sound and rhythm of the longer line flow smoothly, dreamily. By repeating “only,” I suggest three meanings of the word — unique, merely, and except-that. I deliberately place the word “one” next to the Latin “primo” (meaning the numeral one). The “idle of it all” is, in a way, the poem itself, a moratorium of time.
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  2. This had such a sad and almost futile feeling to it, one of loss and confusion over the future.
    Lovely…

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  3. That single flash of blue does translate the sense of dream. You have beautifully constructed that sense of suppressed panic mixed with despair.

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  4. Such a bleak future shown in this, but in such beautiful words.

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  5. How do I say it? The two lines are utterly beautiful.

    skin dreams

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  6. Hi Therese,

    This does seem sad but I enjoyed the words and ideas you have used, like “but the silence of the shower next door, vacant well, & the dry plain of bare square tiles,”.

    Like

  7. Therese, this is very strong and compelling. I particularly like:

    what reference next what next application, all tomorrows an un-matriculated wanting

    Poignant!

    Like

  8. I love the “m” and “s” sounds in this, especially at the beginning, but throughout. They convey for me a mournful sense of musing, of patient uncertainty. There is a striking bareness to the scene you paint; the details are very replete, but the scene is barren nonetheless, every item inert and desolate, from the “blue comb” to the “mill town” with its dying brute-patriarchy, to the shower, and tiles, the black tassels, the “dead” and empty Latin. The word moratorium is powerfully ambiguous; it is a moratorium on memory, on grief, on regret, on love? The idle of it all, so short in response, (and with a pun on the word idyll) resonates wildly and powerfully. Is it bitter? Is it stupefied? Has it moved on to something better, able to now look back with acceptance?

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  9. I love how you thought about this poem and connected it all together. The poem says so much. It is poignant and a strong statement. I enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing, Therese.

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  10. Therese, the underlying powerful feelings of loss due to your father missing your coming-of-age graduation is poignantly expressed and the many pauses appear fragmented thus capturing the temporary cessation of activity following the closure of college life. Two lines, one extremely long, one brief. So powerful.

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  11. therese great language throughout to displace gravity on the reader. that resonating “idle” really hits, verse and form serve the style well. -lawrence

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  12. Therese, I thought of how your father was an artist when I read “one art, only loss, a father gone”. I thought of him.

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  13. Me thinks they are great lines….thanks for this

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  14. The details do add up to a sense of loss. The last line is a killer!

    Like

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